Should Prostitution Remain a Criminal Activity?

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Millions of men, women, and children are entangled in the sex industry and that number grows every year. While many involved are willing participants searching for financial stability or free expression, a majority of the people in this industry are forced or coerced into participating. Legalizing prostitution gives abused and battered women the opportunity to report violence to the police with no fear of prosecution.

However, if legalization were to occur, we are sending a message to young boys that a woman’s body is their playground and they can do whatever they please with a simple payment transaction. There are dangers in both the legalization and illegalization of prostitution, however putting the safety of every women and child involved should trump any decision in the end. There is an opportunity to receive the best of both worlds by keeping prostitution illegal, but allowing women the right to come forward and receive safety from abusive pimps and customers without facing any penalty of law.

It is important to acknowledge the opposing side and that there can be benefits to legalizing prostitution, especially when it comes to the protection of the women involved. The argument states that if prostitution is no longer a crime, victims of abuse and rape will have the opportunity to report and incarcerate their attackers without fear of prosecution. Sex-workers would be able to work with law enforcement in order to get the abusive, victimizing pimps and customers off the streets and away from more potential victims.

Criminalization allows killers and abusers to target prostitutes with impunity. Predators and pimps often prey on them solely because they are less likely to go to the police, and this can lead these men to further take advantage and abuse non-prostitutes as well. Collecting data on whether or not the legalization reduces violent activity is difficult because in the several European countries where prostitution is legal, only certain areas have regulated working circles. The Netherlands, for example, is one of the few countries to have held continuous, regulated tolerance towards prostitution.

Their studies show that after creating the tipplezone (legal street prostitution zone), incidents of abuse or rape dropped 30-40% within the first two years (Kastoryano 2017). We also have to consider the fact that not every single instant of abuse is reported, therefore it is impossible to come to land on a number that correctly defines the rate of violence. It is reported that only 58% of women involved in prostitution report violent crimes (Prostitution statistics n.d.). This is why the argument stands in the first place because all violent acts would be reported and no further harm would be done to the victims who come forward and report it if it were a non-criminal act.

I believe that prostitution has become an excuse for blatant abuse and violence towards women. Stating that the purchasing of a woman’s body for a man’s sexual gratification should become legal is a crime against women within itself. Legalizing prostitution teaches every boy and man that women are just commodities to be bought and sold to whomever. What kind of world would we live in if men can assume they are entitled to access to any women or girl’s body? As mentioned earlier, a large amount of people within the sex-industry are forced or coerced, and legalizing prostitution will not stop that. It will, however, potentially allow male abusers to profit from trafficking their victims, only now in “legalized locations facilitated and regulated by the government itself” (Vargas 2017).

I understand the opposition’s argument that legalizing prostitution can help women report and escape violence, but it doesn’t help the 40% of prostitutes who were forced or trafficked into the industry (Prostitution statistics n.d.). In fact, it further traps them in prostitution rings all over the world by glorifying and protecting modern-day slavery. The biggest argument I will continuously stand by, is that legalization will increase the number of men demanding sex and the workers involved. This stems the question of where will all of these sex-workers come from? If prostitution were to become legalized, it will no longer be the empowered woman representing the norm of prostitution.

Instead, it will be the millions of women and children needed to supply the demand of an unlimited amount of consumers. This idea concerns me the most because that is where trafficking and exploitation becomes an issue. Once the demand for sex-workers reaches its limit, there is no other way to get more prostitutes other than forcing or kidnapping victims. The government is more concerned about protecting victims from being exploited outside of the industry, they are ignoring the ones who are already suffering in it. It’s heartbreaking how we can be opposed to the trafficking of women and children, but at the same time support the decriminalization of the buyers who create the demand for prostitutes in the first place.

There are millions of arguments to back the decriminalization of prostitution as well as the idea of keeping it illegal, however it is clear that both sides share an intense focus regarding the protection of the women and children involved. Legalizing prostitution grants victims access to the ability to speak up and seek help when in abusive situations without the fear of jail time. Even women who were victims of trafficking have been prosecuted for coming forward with rape and abuse allegations. In addition to this, those who believe prostitution should remain illegal are motivated by the idea that it will keep women safer and deter men from the idea that women are objects to be bought.

If there is such a shared focus on keeping women and children safe, then shouldn’t we be able to come up with a plan of action that has a main goal of just that?

The answer is yes. There is a way we can send the protection of women back up to the front seat of the conversation. My argument stands that prostitution should remain a criminal activity, but those who are trafficked into the industry should be granted immunity when coming forward with abuse allegations. This is in no way condoning illegal behavior or letting women who voluntarily participate off the hook. It is a way for women, children and even the men involved to be able to report violent activity or abuse from pimps and customers without fear of prosecution. When the threat of penalization is off the table, sex workers will be able to join forces with law enforcement to identify and locate suspects who are abusive and possibly involved in human trafficking.

Cite this paper

Should Prostitution Remain a Criminal Activity?. (2021, Nov 26). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/should-prostitution-remain-a-criminal-activity/

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